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Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most Paperback – July 25, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060564075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060564070
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bounds and her partner lived across the street from the World Trade Center; they both wrote for the Wall Street Journal and were getting ready to go to work when the planes struck the towers on 9/11. They made their way to friends uptown, and in the following months, they parked themselves in a variety of temporary accommodations, as their building was uninhabitable. One friend brought them to Guinan's, an old Irish bar in the small, upper Hudson River town of Garrison, N.Y.—and Bounds soon felt at home. She gradually let herself become enmeshed in the Guinan family saga, as well as in the intertwined tales of the regular customers. Before long, "the invisible red velvet rope" lifted, and she was helping out at the bar and setting up shop when the aging owner was hospitalized for diabetes-related surgery, buying a ramshackle home nearby and generally becoming included in the Guinan extended family. Bounds's story isn't flashy or dramatic; it's as low-key as her new, non-Manhattan friends. It modestly reminds us that in this uncertain world, when you come to a place that speaks to you, you should hold it dear and treasure it while it lasts. Photos. Agent, David Black. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

A Metro North commuter line snakes out of New York City along the Hudson River, and one of its stops is a store with an attached tavern. The establishment's sociology is Bounds' topic, one she adopted serendipitously as a result of September 11. The terrorist attacks damaged her apartment and workplace, the Wall Street Journal; she and her partner found what they initially intended to be temporary refuge in the town of Garrison. She eventually moved there permanently, an outgrowth of her increasing familiarity with the tavern's proprietor, Irishman Jim Guinan, his family, and the bar's regulars. Over beers and smokes, their life stories bounce around the bar with the mock-insults of people who've known one another over the 40 years Guinan's been in business. The slower pace appeals to Bounds, and she adjusts to its rhythms, filling in behind the bar as the torch passes from Guinan to his son. Without gauzy romanticism, Bounds captures the warmth of the place and the rootedness it symbolizes. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Thank you Wendy Bounds for telling this story.
Amazon Customer
I'm willing to bet that this book will make most readers remember a simpler time, and perhaps encourage them to seek those days one more time.
R. Norton
This is the book you'll give as gifts, read over and over, and keep in your family library.
MoonDancer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Little Chapel on the River", a delightful book by Gwendolyn Bounds, is a story of three families....the Guinans, who run the local pub and store, the extended Guinan family (patrons, mostly) of Garrison, New York and the family of the author, herself. It's a "feel good" book in the best possible sense.

Having been displaced by the attacks on 9/11, Wendy and her girlfriend, Kathryn, are introduced to the tiny hamlet of Garrison just across the river from West Point. Within a short time, Wendy has begun to make friends at Guinan's and ends up being a part of the entourage that makes its way into Guinan's each morning and evening. Along the way, the author finds more than a few things about herself as she begins to piece together what's missing from her life.

Bounds is enticingly descriptive about the characters she meets at Guinan's. Some, naturally, are small town skeptics regarding this new face in the crowd but without giving much more than an inch, Wendy finds herself enmeshed in their lives as they become her new friends, far from the roaring din of Manhattan. There's Fitz, a former U.S. federal marshal and Vietnam war veteran who likes to butt heads with Dan Donnelly, the "limousine liberal" lawyer. Jane and Mary Ellen form a duo of town females who help out at the pub and enjoy Guinan's to the fullest. Their loyalty is never questioned. The list of patrons goes on. The real story, though, centers around the Guinan family....Jim, an emigré from Ireland and his four children. This is indeed a family that despite its ups and downs is a close-knit unit that takes care of its own...and while they're doing so, take care of everyone else, too.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Corinne H. Smith VINE VOICE on July 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sometimes Life throws us a curve, and we land somewhere we didn't expect to be. And that place turns out to be the home we should have been looking for all along. That's what happened to NYC residents Wendy Bounds and Kathryn Kranhold in the aftermath of 9/11. Their post-traumatic experiences eventually put them in Garrison, a small Hudson River settlement 50 miles north of Grand Central Station. What makes Garrison most memorable is a combination store-and-bar called Guinan's (GUY-nenz). Named after proprietor Jim Guinan, the building serves as a newspaper outlet for rail commuters, a refreshment stand for thirsty West Pointers, a monthly mecca of Irish ballads for local musicians, and the social center of the community. How this family business got started and keeps on going is the real story, and it comes to light now because Wendy is a Wall Street Journal reporter. Her journalistic instinct led her to take notes and record conversations; her heart led her to a real estate agent to make permanent her connection with the people and the area. The CHEERS theme song got it right: You want to be where everyone knows your name. A warm, beautiful, compelling, and true example of sense of place.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. Norton on June 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book's message reminds me of a song on Jack Johnson's newest CD. In the song, "Breakdown," he sings, "I hope this old train breaks down. Then I could take a walk around and see what there is to see. And time is just a melody. All the people in the street walk as fast as their feet can take them. I just roam through town."

In this beautifully written tale Bounds teaches us that it's OK to roam because it's then that we might just find what we're looking for.

It took something as dramatic as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to get Bounds to realize this. It was then that she moved from lower Manhattan a block from the Trade Center to a tiny town up the Hudson River where life is more like the way it once was. People take time to get to know -- and help -- their neighbors.

Like so many small towns, a chapel is the main gathering place, though this one isn't the typical house of worship. It's a bar on the river where the town's characters gather night after night to trade stories, jokes and barbs and even find support. And when their chapel is threatened, they come together to help protect it, including Bounds.

I'm willing to bet that this book will make most readers remember a simpler time, and perhaps encourage them to seek those days one more time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Heather A. Henry on June 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
I like the "come find yourself in a small town" genre and I like the Guinan family the author writes about. I even love the Wall Street Journal, where she is a writer on staff. We lived in nearby New Jersey when the terrorist attacks happened and lost some friends and neighbors, so I've lived through a bit of what she went through. But...the book was missing something for me. Even though Gwendolyn Bounds writes in detail about the pub on Garrison's Landing and the family who runs it, I just didn't feel the connection to the characters--she wrote more matter of factly than from the heart. I understood that she cared deeply about them, but she didn't make me care. She did make me curious and maybe I'll go to Guinan's someday. Well, that's my take on it. I'd give the book 3.5 stars, and recommend the book with the aforementioned reservations.
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